Law’s Autonomy and Public Practical Reason

Gerald J. Postema

in The Autonomy of Law

Published in print June 1999 | ISBN: 9780198267904
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191683404 | DOI:
Law’s Autonomy and Public Practical Reason

Show Summary Details


Cicero stated that political authority and laws were both invented for the purpose of establishing and securing justice and the equality of rights. Others propose that laws are founded out of people's doubts, when a ruler or king does not satisfy in rulings enacted. The special virtue of law is that it can address matters of justice and rights to all citizens, at all times, with a single voice. After all, why depend on a possible fallible judgment of a single person, when people can depend on a standard that has been decided on by a consensus? This chapter aims to examine one particular thesis about the nature of law, called the Autonomy Thesis. According to this thesis, legal reasoning is a viable and vital form of public practical forcing of the norms. The way legal reasoning proceeds in this matter is determined by criteria that make no reference to considerations of political morality. The Autonomy Thesis states in abstract a form of description for certain fundamental features of law, a supposed thesis for law in general. The discussions at the core of this thesis lead to the description of three more theses: the limited domain thesis, pre-emption thesis and sources thesis.

Keywords: Autonomy Thesis; limited domain thesis; Cicero; sources thesis; justice; rulings; norms

Chapter.  16246 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.